Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Words of Sounds (3) - Wroblewski

Apparently there's been a lot of controversy over The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski's first novel, published in 2008. I had no idea about that when mom and I picked it to read together (we do this, regularly) - it just seemed to promise a good story, and I was drawn to the distant red barn on the cover. And while I'm not about to review the book here - you can read plenty about it elsewhere - I did like it (though didn't expect so much darkness) and especially liked this passage on page 404.

The set up: Edgar, a runaway at this point - mute and fleeing his family's farm with three dogs - is befriended by a lonely man in a small town in northern Wisconsin who is trying to show the world (and a certain woman) he's not 'ordinary.' The two slowly form a friendship, as a silent trust builds between them.

"That night it was a workingman's dinner. Henry sat at the kitchen table and read the newspaper and ate reheated brats and potato salad. He motioned for Edgar to help himself and eyed the dogs as though expecting them to lunge for the food. He started to ask Edgar to put them outside, then seemed to reconsider. Instead, he folded the paper into quarters and pored over the crossword, tapping his pencil on the table and picking off the easy clues. Then he said, "Oh!" and walked into the living room. There was a warm pop from the phonograph speakers. Piano music began to drift through the house.

"They call this one The Goldberg Variation," he said when he returned. He was holding a battered album cover in one hand. He looked at it again and, with self-conscious precision, corrected himself: "Variations." He took up the crossword puzzle again, shifting and fidgeting and touching his forehead as if perturbed by the sound of the piano. He emptied his glass of beer and leaned over to the refrigerator and extracted another, pouring it down the inside curve of the glass while streamers of bubbles upward.

It's nothing earth-shattering, just unexpected to find a vinyl copy of The Goldberg Variations in this story. Stuck with me.

P.S. Of course this is the version of TGV I know and love.

No comments: